Saturday, 28 March 2009

Death and Taxes

The two certainties in life are death and taxes. The UK vat rules say that some foods are vat exempt and others luxury goods are charge at 15%. For HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) details can be found here

The most famous case in law was that of
HM Revenue & Customs v Mc Vities. The manufacturers of Jaffa Cakes, McVities classified them as cakes, and were taken to a court by Customs and Excise, who argued that they were in fact chocolate covered biscuits, and so liable for VAT.

McVities defended their case by making a very large Jaffa Cake in order to demonstrate that they really were just mini cakes. They also argued that biscuits go soft when left exposed to the air for long periods, and cakes go hard and since Jaffa Cakes go hard when left out, they were in fact cakes. McVities won their case, and VAT is not charged on Jaffa Cakes.

So it was a pleasant surprise today to see that from my receipt from Tesco Metro that Monster Munch (orginal pickled onion) are a luxury good and charged at 15% and eaten by the decadent and that Pot Noddles (Spicy curry) are essential food stuff and charged at 0%. It's a funny old world.

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Sign of things to come

As I've mention previously myrail lite was closing down on 31st March . So I looked at the new app from National Rail Enquires and it £4.99 ouch. So I looked at other countries and found the SBB one is free. Is this another sign of rip off Britain or a sign of the future were we'll be paying a lot more for day to day infomation.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Spoof FT

Reclaim the Streets have produced a spoof of the Financial Times for the year 2020.

Note: server was a bit slow when i looked as it took a while to load the page up.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Deleted my account of facebook

Well I think facebook has served its use and now is getting more and more filled with Spam. Therefore I've taken the decision to delete my facebook account and withdraw all my content from their service and not a moment too soon given the news report below which says 'Government plans to track the correspondence of millions on social networking sites have been met with fierce criticism'

The private correspondence of millions of people who use social networking sites could be tracked and saved on a “big brother” database, under new plans being drawn up by the UK government.

Ministers revealed yesterday that they were considering policing messages sent via sites such as MySpace and Facebook, alongside plans to store information about every phone call, e-mail and internet visit made by everyone in the United Kingdom.

MyRail and MyRail lite

My Rail was one of the best app's for the Iphone from Kizoom. It gave you the train time and from what platform the trains were running and updates if the service was delayed etc. This app has been an part of my life and in daily use for a long time. Its even told me the correct information when the announcements they make at stations are hard to believe.

You can get a full run down on what the app did here as I've said above I've been using this app for a long time and it was sad to see this appear on Twitter.

MyRail: We’re sorry to report that our license to distribute real-time train information from National Rail Enquiries is not being renewed.

MyRail: We regret that this service will have to be discontinued as of 31 March 2009. Thanks for all your interest and support

I think National Rail are missing a trick here unless they come up with an app which is as simple and easy to use as MyRail then I think its going to be a great part missing from my life and it won't make me travel by train anymore as I will not have upto moment information. Their Journey Planner is good but it shows too much you need something that is clean and elegant like MyRail was.

Update: There is a great article here by Rory Cellan-Jones

"I'd received a press release promoting another train time iPhone application from - guess who - National Rail Enquiries. At the time I'd asked the press officer how the app compared to MyRail Lite - and been promised that it was far superior.

So last night I installed it and tried it out - and it was indeed very good, enabling you not just to check departure times but to plan a whole journey. But there's one catch - it costs £4.99, whereas MyRail Lite was free."


£4.99 bloody hell, how can they justify making the information on when train are running or delayed so expensive. I think I'll be giving that one a miss

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Monday, 23 March 2009

Daily Mail Tax Dodgers!


Daily Mail Demo- Tuesday the 24th 12-1pm, outside Northcliffe House, 2 Derry St, Near High St Ken tube station. The owner of the Daily Mail Viscount Rothermere is a non dom , so dodges tax in this country and it appears is domiciled in France for tax purposes. SO the owner of the Daily Mail is a tax dodging French man, the demo calls on the writers of the Mail to do their duty and stick it to Viscount Rothermere as sponging foreigner!

The Daily Mail is owned via a series of trusts , involving Bermuda another offshore tax haven... so Richard Littlejohn can get stuck into the paper too!

Download the pdf of the banner placard

What is a "non-dom" and what is the Government doing to them?

British citizens with interests abroad can register for "non-domiciled" status, meaning they do not pay tax on earnings made outside the United Kingdom. In an effort to raise money to plug holes in public finances, the Treasury plans to make them pay up to £1 billion every year. Under plans due to take effect in April, anyone who has claimed non-dom status for seven of the past 10 years will have to pay an annual fee of £30,000.

Captial Ring

On Sunday morning after brunch in Crouch End, we stumbled across a sign for The Capital Ring, having not heard about this place before we investigated a signpost and found that it is a surprisingly green route that encircles London within a radius should be 7-16km (4-10miles) of Charing Cross. Its total distance is 125km or 78 miles, it threads together parks and open spaces, mostly following pleasant residential roads in between. or so the website says, its a walking and cycling route all around Londo.

The 15 sections summarised below. What seems to be good is that no matter where you walk to you can get back on the tube or bus and get back home.

My plan is to cycle the whole ring some time in the summer. Below is a map of the areas of London that the ring crosses.

More information on walking in London


Section km miles
1 Woolwich to Falconwood 9.3 5.8
2 Falconwood to Grove Park 5.6 3.5
3 Grove Park to Crystal Palace 12.0 7.5
4 Crystal Palace to Streatham 5.6 3.5
5 Streatham to Wimbledon Park 8.5 5.3
6 Wimbledon Park to Richmond 10.9 6.8
7 Richmond to Osterley Lock 7.6 4.8
8 Osterley Lock to Greenford 7.2 4.5
9 Greenford to South Kenton 8.5 5.3
10 South Kenton to Hendon 8.8 5.5
11 Hendon to Highgate 7.7 4.8
12 Highgate to Stoke Newington 7.2 4.5
13 Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick 5.6 3.5
14 Hackney Wick to Beckton District Park 7.7 4.8
15 Beckton District Park to Woolwich 4.8 3.0

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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Newcastle or Gotham O' Tyne

I'm often asked what was Newcastle upon Tyne called before it had a
new castle in the city. Often its quoted that it was called Gotham O'
Tyne below is a text with this quoted in. I'm going to find some
other sources as I know it's in a 12th Century poem as well. But Gotham seems to be the slang name for Newcastle

Heav'n prosper thee, Gotham! thou famous old town. 

Full text of "A glossary of North country words, in use. From an original manuscript, in the library of John George Lambton, Esq., M. P., with conside

Heav'n prosper thee, Gotham! thou famous old town.

Wor time on the Sandhill wi' pleasure did glide,
To display all wor warees and to scold was wor pride;
Wor noise did the greet folks of Gotham engage;
- The Green-Wives Lamentation
- The Newcastle Song Book or Tyne-Side Soongster., W&T Fordyce

Then gallantly they turn'd them round,
And so march'd up again.
Now fill a bumper to the brim,
And drink to Gotham's Mayor;
And when again he hears such news,
May Fauconberg be there.
-Lord Fauconberg's March.
-In: The Newcastle Song Book or Tyne-Side Soongster., W&T Fordyce
Newcastle Upon Tyne.
The Custom House Branch
Tynesiders, give ear, and you quickly shall hear
A strange and wonderful story,
Of a dreadful uproar upon fam'd Gotham's shore,
Where we've brush'd all to heighten our glory.
On the Quayside, so spruce, stands a great Custom House,
Of Newcastle the pride and birth-right;
Now the sons of Go-tham had sworn o'er a dram,
That to Gotham it soon should take flight
A townsman they sent, on great deeds fully bent,
A son of the knife and the steel, sirs;
And one learn'd in the laws, to argue their cause,
The covenants to sign and to seal, sirs.
Lo London they came, through the high road to fame,
Their hearts were both merry and staunch:
Of success confident, to the Treasury they went,
And demanded they might have a Branch!
False report (only guess) brought to Gotham success,'
Rejoicing, they blaz'd withoiut doubt;
Great Rome, they now say, was not built in one day;
We've the Branch, and we'll soon have the Root!
While their thoughts were thus big, over Newcastle brig
The Mail came one day, in a hurry:
What's the news? say the folk; quick a Briton up spoke,
No Branch!--so Newcastle be merry.
No Branch! was the cry, re-echoed the sky,
And sent down to Gotham a volley;
Where the prospect is bad, for 'tis fear'd they'll run mad,
Or relapse into sad melancholy.
So Gotham beware, and no more lay a snare,
Nor think that Newcastle you'll bend;
Call your advocates home, your cause to bemoan,
And let each his own calling attend.
-In: The Newcastle Song Book or Tyne-Side Soongster., W&T Fordyce
Newcastle Upon Tyne.

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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mobile boarding pass

Well it was interesting this morning web marcus asked if I wanted my
ticket texted to me. They txt you a link ad you can download or have
your ticket ready for the gate. Having it ready at security and
passport control didn't seem to be a problem. Then one swipe over the
scanner as our at the gate and your on the plane nothing to lose on
use as a book mark mind you.
Another first for the geordie monkey and he likes it. Top banana!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Porno art in hotel room in bratislava

Friday, 13 March 2009

Darwin getting in on the Comic Relief fun

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Keswick, Lakes District Photos

Well yesterday I got a chance to update all my photos to Flickr, this is one of my favs of Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick

All the pictures from my weekend away can be found at

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


I forgot how beautiful the Lake District can be! This is just a sample of whats to come from my trip away. Once I'm done with a bit of photo editing i'll publish a full trip report and the pictures.

Friday, 6 March 2009

message from Mark Thomas

from a friend


> Yes it is true... there is another media event or as the police
> insist on calling them 'demos' at New Scotland Yard... on the 17th of
> March to find out how much of the police you can photo before it
> becomes illegal... starting with the shoes.

Well I'm signing off the grid

Bye bye iphone, see ya ywitter look after facebook for me see you soon k

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Its shpping

Moonlight for Linux has make it to V1.0. Congrats Novell

Moonlight is an open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight for Unix based operating systems. Hopefully this will mean have a Linux box at NAB this year running the ContentAgent interface.

from the site:

Compatible Operating Systems and Platforms

We strongly recommend the use of Firefox 3 as it supports Windowless operation, a common feature used by Silverlight applications.

Architecture Operating System Firefox 2.0 Firefox 3.0
x86 (32 bit) SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 yes yes
openSUSE 11.0 yes yes
openSUSE 11.1 yes yes
Ubuntu 8.04 yes yes
Fedora Core 9 yes yes
x86-64 (64 bit) SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 yes yes
openSUSE 11.0

Minimal Requirements

An x86 or x86-64 computer with at least 128 megs of RAM to use Moonlight, Firefox 2.0 or Firefox 3.0.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Preparing to go off the the grid.

Off the Grid, phrase slang

The term off the grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

In my case its all about communications technology leaving all the moblie cell phone and data connectivity behind and living for awhile without facebook, twitter not blogging every part of my life and just for awhile enjoying the sense of isolation. This is were the fun is as I have extreme techno-joy I love my devices and gadgets and wonder how I'd ever run my life without them. I've never complete left the grid in a long time and I wonder how i will feel being unconnected by my virtual strings to the web. So from this Friday for a short while the sound you will here is the tone of 400Hz in a continous cadence. Lets hope I don't like too much and decide I want to stay there.

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Pot planet

Nothing is strange on a monday mornimg. Plant waiting at the crossing on Oxford Street London

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